Department of Physics

Department News

Colloquium Announcement for April 11

Apr 4, 2014

Speaker: Dr. Massimo Marengo
Date: Friday, April 11, 2014
Time: 4 PM
Room: 205 Currens Hall

The Long Quest for Measuring the Cosmos


Since prehistoric times humanity has relied on astronomy to make sense of our place in the Cosmos. The observation of the heavens opened a window for studying the reality beyond our terrestrial world. As technology progressed and astronomy became a quantitative science, the sky was transformed from the realm of the gods into the domain of physics. Even today, sizing up the Cosmos with the help of the most advanced ground- and space-based telescopes is still at the forefront of astronomy. In this Colloquium I will talk about how studying pulsating stars provides the first step in what we call the "Cosmological Distance Ladder", which allow us to determine the size and age of the Universe. I will report on our project of measuring the Hubble constant and other cosmological parameters with unprecedented accuracy by using NASA's Spitzer space telescope to observe Cepheids and RR Lyrae stars in the Milky Way and nearby galaxies.

About the speaker:

Massimo Marengo obtained his Ph.D. in 2000 from the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy, while doing his thesis research at the Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, MA as a Smithsonian Predoctoral Fellow. He then became a staff astronomer at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory joining the group that built and supported the InfraRed Array Camera (IRAC) onboard NASA's Spitzer space telescope. Since 2009 he joined the faculty at Iowa State University, where he currently is Associate Professor in the Physics and Astronomy department. His main research area is the study of variable stars.

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